Hyper, the company behind those stackable GaN chargers and powerful battery banks, is running a Kickstarter for a Thunderbolt 4 hub that’s truly compact thanks to the fact that it doesn’t need a massive power brick like the ones that weigh down other hubs. Instead, it plugs straight into the wall with a relatively standard figure-eight power cable, letting you add fast ports to your computer without eating up a bunch of backpack or desk space.
Despite the simplicity, Hyper says it’ll still be able to provide up to 96 watts of power to your laptop, which is enough to power most laptops (if you have a gaming computer or a 16-inch MacBook Pro, though, it may still loose some battery while going at full-tilt). As with most Hyper products, though, the hub doesn’t come cheap; Hyper says it’s expected to retail for around $299 when it releases.
As a Thunderbolt 4 hub, it gives you a few more ports to work with. The front has four Thunderbolt ports. You plug your computer into one and then whatever disks, displays, or other accessories you want into the other three. Hyper says that its 32Gbps PCIe speeds (which equates to 4x for PCIe 3.0 or 2x for PCIe 4.0) are fast enough for external GPUs and that the ports can provide 15W of power to devices like an iPad Pro. It should also be compatible with most fancy monitor setups; Hyper says the hub supports tech like Display Stream Compression and the multi-stream transport tech required to run two 6K screens at 60 Hz.
Obviously, you’re paying a lot for the convenience of not having an external power brick (which helps make the hub more portable). For the price of the hub, you could get a full-on Thunderbolt 4 dock that adds several other ports. Hyper is offering Kickstarter backers a significantly lower price (anywhere from $179 to $239, depending on which tiers have stock left), but there is inherently some risk to that. Yes, by this point, Hyper is a reputable brand with plenty of successful crowdfunding campaigns under its belt, but there’s still a difference between a Kickstarter preorder and buying something directly off a website. The company says it expects the hubs to start making their way to backers in November.
If your pockets aren’t quite so deep or you don’t mind putting up with a little inconvenience, OWC’s Thunderbolt Hub may be worth a look. It also lets you add three Thunderbolt 4 ports to your computer, as well as a USB-A port (it even runs at 10 Gbps). At $169, it’s a fair bit cheaper than Hyper’s version — but it will have to be attached to a massive power brick, and it can only manage 60W of charging.